A report by the Fraser Institute says Canada’s average health care wait times are at an all-time high, clocking in at 27.7 weeks.
The data was collected in a survey with responses from 1,200 Canadian doctors across 12 specialties and 10 provinces, the organization said.
It noted, in the midst of the increase, patients in Manitoba don’t have to wait nearly as long for medical treatment as they did in 2022. The report said Manitoba’s wait times shrank by almost 30 per cent from last year.
The province now sits at an average of 29.1 weeks rather than 41.3, it said.
Using data from last year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said radiation therapy is the only treatment that is meeting its suggested wait time benchmark, which is 28 days.
Knee replacements dragged the furthest behind, with only 26 per cent of procedures happening within the 26-week benchmark. The CIHI said knee replacements are a sore point across the country, with 50 per cent not meeting the benchmark.
Thomas Linner, provincial director of the Manitoba Health Coalition, said wait times could be cut with more staffing, and better data sharing.
“We need to staff up. We need to identify those priority procedures and staff up in those areas. I think we have seen government starting to realize this,” he said. “We have seen, from the federal government, a willingness to discuss with the different provincial governments exactly how to share data in a more timely manner so that we are able to make more informed decisions, more quickly, and to the benefit of patients across Canada.”
Linner said long wait times cause a lot of stress for patients and their family. More than that, he said long wait times mean extended “pain, time off work. All kinds of difficult situations for people — both financial and interpersonal.”
The Fraser Institute said Canadian doctors responded to the survey saying “their patients are waiting over four and a half weeks longer for treatment (after seeing a specialist) than what they consider to be clinically reasonable.”
Emergency room (ER) wait times are also among the issues Manitoba is grappling with.
To help, in late November, provincial Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara announced the province is increasing capacity and introducing daily patient discharges at ERs in Winnipeg, Selkirk and Brandon.
It will also be adding patient beds to various hospitals, starting with Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital.
1:56 Manitoba government takes steps toward reducing ER wait times News Related